Construction of a third set of railroad tracks on the Union Pacific line through Geneva could start in 2016, as money has been pledged for the project.
The Illinois Department of Transportation and the railway company have agreed to split the estimated $90 million cost to add a third set of tracks between Kress Road near West Chicago and Peck Road on the western edge of Geneva, and to a stretch between River Forest and Melrose Park, it was announced June 27.
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Final design work will take place next year, according to Union Pacific spokesman Mark Davis.
The additional tracks are meant to alleviate conflicts on the line between freight traffic and commuter trains. The railroad is three tracks wide except in these spots. During morning and evening commute times, eastbound freight trains have been parked near La Fox. In a 2010 letter to the federal Surface Transportation Board, the railway identified the Geneva project as one of its top priorities for relieving rail congestion.
The line carries 70 freight trains a day, according to the railway's president and chief operating officer, Lance Fritz. Metra reports 59 commuter trains on average on weekdays, with a ridership of 30,300.
Geneva has been planning for the third track's arrival for years. The track will be built to the south of the current tracks, taking out more than 90 spaces of the south parking lot at the Metra station at Third Street. To make up for the loss of parking, a third level is being added to the parking garage near the station.
The railroad bridge over Route 31 will be replaced, according to a 2009 Metra presentation on the matter, made to the Geneva City Council. But the trestle over the Fox River should be wide enough to accommodate the third tracks.